the citizens of san antonio and texas, and this was a wonderful place. i met a wonderful young man who had lost his arm and two -- parts of two of his legs. he was a west point graduate. he was sitting there again with his beautiful wife, and i was visiting with him. he said i just want to be able to continue to contribute. and i thought, oh, my goodness, you know, here is a west point graduate with so much to give, and wants to continue to give, and so i came back and i wrote a letter to general odierno, the chief of staff of the army and i said there's a young man here who has lost most of three limbs and out of four, and he wants to ceet contributing and -- keep contributing and what about
making hall of fame military fellow which we have in in our offices as the presiding officer knows, we have military fellows who are active duty military and they help us, we can have one a year, and they will help us with the military perspective on the things that we're doing. and, of course, myself serving on the defense appropriations committee and the military construction committee of appropriations and the veterans' affairs committee, i love to have those military fellows. and i was so pleased that within just a month or so when the choices were made for military fellows, this young man was chosen by general odierrno whose own son also has lost an arm in combat. so i think that with is a wonderful thing that in reflection is one of the highlights of my moments to
remember. i also remember some of the great things that my staff has done and i have to say my staff has been the can-do staff of all time. they never take no for an answer. and so when we have challenges, individuals who need help with maybe a veteran's benefit, maybe a social security problem, we have always been the staff that tries to do everything possible to come through. and i'm very pleased that my staff director for casework has had such a great reputation, joyce sibley, that the senator who is going to take my place on january 3 is going to have her continue in that position. and she knows the issues, she knows the people, and she'll be great, and i applaud
senator-elect ted cruz for making that decision and for keeping most of the staff that has done this wonderful work. but let me give you a couple of examples. first of all, we got a frantic call from a friend of mine about a doctor who was trapped on top of mount everest. he was a dallas doctor, and he was trapped up there in a blizzard, and they had a -- had had a terrible loss of some of the people in their climbing group. and a friend called and said is there anything you can do? and my wonderful staff, one of whom is retired military and knew some of the things that could be done, dave davis, actually made a contact, got into the nepalese army -- air force, rather, and was able to get a helicopter up and once you
get past a certain level, 13,000 feet, the oxygen, you have to have oxygen in a helicopter or obviously if you're climbing. so it was something that was a real ask of the nepalese air force. and we were able to get them to take that risk and to go up and we were able to rescue dr. beck wet weatherers and he is alive, wrote a great book about that experience from his vantage point but we were very pleased to take part in something like that. i'll tell you, maybe the all-time great experience was my houston office, led my jason fuller. and we got a call in the dallas office, and so the houston and dallas offices together did
this. so we got a call in the dallas office from a woman in mississippi, and she said i didn't know who else to call but i knew senator hutchison's name. and my son is having a -- an asthma attack. in houston. and i don't know how to get him the help he needs. he's in his apartment by himself. and my staff said please give me the information, and we will call our houston office and we will see if we can get help. which they did, called the houston office. the houston office called 911, they went out to the young man's apartment, and he was, in fact, in a dire circumstance, and would have died had he not gotten help right away. but they took him in, they gave him the help that he needed, and that man -- young man is alive today.
so this -- these instances are some of the great memories that i will have of having a wonderful staff that will go the extra mile and try to help the individuals in our state as well as on the big issues where we also try to make sure that we do everything we can to get something that's very important to us, whether it's to america or to texas or to texans or to americans. and these are some of the memories that i will take with me as i leave this great body. and as i said in my actual formal farewell speech, it's easy to be critical and i saw on television the esteem of congress has gone to 5% favorable, and i'm not surprised at that, as my
colleague, john mccain, once said, now we're down to blood relatives and paid staff. and, you know, it is easy to criticize. and a lot of reason to criticize, i will admit that things not have been as productive and most certainly the acrimony does show sometimes. but i am going to say as i leave, after almost 20 years in this body, that the people here are all dedicated. there's not one that isn't a dedicated, patriotic american. what we -- we disagree, sometimes violently disagree on the way we should get to our goals. but our agreement is on the goal of keeping america the beacon of freedom to the world, to keeping our military strong, to doing right by all of our
people, whether it's a small business person who is creating jobs, who is trying to go up the ladder of success, or whether it is someone who is in trouble because they have had a huge setback in their lives. everyone here wants america to continue to be the magnet for the intellectual property of the world. we want to be the science and technology ?oaftors -- innovators that will continue to fuel our economy. it's just how we get there that causes the disagreement. we have patriotic people who have been elected. i hope for the next two years we will put aside the partisan politics, put aside the thoughts of future elections, and try to solve the big issues of our time. because there's a lot of
intelligence in this body, there's a lot of ability to come together. and i just keep the abiding faith that our messy democracy will, in fact, prevail because i can't think of going to anything else. and as long as we can function and show the world that we can govern as we disagree, that will be the example that will forever make our country the best and hopefully be a model for others to not think you have to take to the streets, not think that you need guns to have the government that you want but to show that peaceful transition can be done and also that we can have a lot of discussion, a lot of disagreements, but we can do it civilly, and i leave this
body knowing that if we just remember the honor that we have of growing up in the greatest nation on earth, that we will know that it is our responsibility to give the same to our children and grandchildren. and it's the least we can do. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. brown: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent top dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the period for morning business for debate only be extended until 3:00 p.m. with senators -- for debate only to be extended until 3:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: madam president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: madam president, i just listened to the president and my heart is still pounding. i was very disappointed to hear what the president just had to say in front of a pep rally.
something very unbecoming of where we are at this moment. it's my understanding that most of the tax issues have been worked out, should have been worked out on the floor in regular order. i think most of the senate is very distressed that we're in a situation where a negotiation is taking place all of this time, and it's not being done through regular order, but that's the way things are today in the senate. but i just heard the president say that in dealing with the sequester that was put in place to reduce spending, it was part of a $2.1 trillion package to reduce spending so that we could raise the debt ceiling back in august of 2011, no one ever thought we would end up in this place where the sequester would be enacted, but it was done so that we would reduce spending. and i notice my friend from
arizona is here who has been one of the best there is to focus on defense spending and how it should be done, and i know he would like to see things happen in a very different way in that regard, but i just heard the president say that the way we're going to deal with this sequester is in a balanced way through revenues and through reduced spending, and i just want to go on record here on the senate floor. i know there are negotiations that are taking place, but the sequester was to be dealt with substituted with other spending reductions, not through revenues. and i just hope that all those who are involved in bringing this together understand that even on the democratic side, that that was the understanding. and not only was it to be dealt with through spending reductions if these were considered to be ham-handed, and they are, and we should deal with them in a
different way, but they were to be dealt with on the same time period. in other words, we weren't going to reduce $100 billion of the sequester and pay for it over ten years. it was to be done during the same amount of time. so i know the president has fun heckling congress. i think he lost probably numbers of votes with what he did. he didn't lose mine. i'm not that way, i'm going to look at the substance. but it's unfortunate that he doesn't spend as much time working on solving problems as he does with campaigns and pep rallies. but i just want to say i'm very disappointed in what the president had to say. i'm just one senator -- i want to go on record that it is absolutely unacceptable to pay for this sequester with revenues. yesterday we had a meeting that broke down because all the money was being spent. the president campaigned for a year on raising taxes on the upper income. we have acquiesced to that, we know it's going to happen, but yesterday the deal was all the money is going to be spent.
there was going to be no deficit reduction. unbelievable, unbelievable that all the money was going to be out the door as soon as it came in. as a matter of fact, before it came in, it was going to be spent. so, mr. president, i just want to say i know the president enjoys heckling and having pep rallies to try to get congress to act instead of sitting down and actually negotiating, but i hope that what's going to happen is we will end up following through on the reductions in spending that need to take place to replace this sequester. i will also add just for what it's worth the last time we extended unemployment insurance, we paid for it. the last time we did not cause the doc fix s.g.r. to go into place, we paid for it. and i hope that as this negotiation goes forth, we keep
the same principles in place that we've had. this country has over $16 trillion in debt. sequester was put in place because we couldn't reach an agreement on reductions, but we knew they had to take place. and, mr. president, i hope we will continue to honor the fact that the sequester, the $1.2 trillion that we don't like the way it's being implemented will only be adjusted through other reductions. and if that's not the case, count me out. i think most people in this body consider me to be a semi reasonable person, but if that's not what we do, count we out. this country has a spending problem and a revenue problem, i agree with that, and i'm willing to support revenues to deal with this problem. the overall problem. but what i will not agree to is using revenues to replace spending reductions that were
part of the budget control act that candidly we need further reductions in place to actually get this country where it needs to be. with that, i know we have other senators on the floor. i don't know what their response is to what just happened over at the white house, but i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to follow the senator, senator mikulski. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i rise to speak on behalf of what's going on here today as the new chair of the senate full committee on the appropriations committee. that means we're the committee that actually puts money in the federal checkbook. and i'd like to talk about that because, you see, mr. president, today here we are, new year's eve, doing what we should have done right after labor day. we're behind.
we're behind the clock, and actually we're behind the thinking of the american people. they want us to come together and have sensible fiscal policies that promote both growth and at the same time balance it with a new sense of frugality. the fact that we have come here to this point with this culture of delay in this institution i think is really unacceptable. but i don't want to go into the culture of the institution. i want to go into actual discussions of something called sequester and spending. mr. president, the words of washington are a foreign language. we use words that nobody understands and we use numbers that nobody believes, and i'm telling you with me there's going to be a new day and a new way. plain talk, straight talk about what we are doing here.
so let's talk about the word sequester. sequester literally means that you are going to -- sequester means that -- stands for a government arcane word that means you are going to have automatic across-the-board government spending cuts. these are supposed to be triggered if we don't resolve the issues today, will happen on january 2. what is being proposed is that we would cut $110 billion in 2013, $55 billion in defense and $55 billion in nondefense. this means every single program. not programs that are dated, not programs that are bloated, not programs that might be for another era or only benefited a
small group of people in a distant past. it means every single program. yes, there will be certain exemptions to that in terms of social security benefits, veteran benefits and certain things related to the military. since we are already three months into the fiscal year, the impact of these cuts will even be worse. so when you hear about we're cutting deals on sequester, we're actually talking about government spending. now, let's talk about cuts. this is not like the first time either party has talked about cuts nor is it the first time either party has started to talk about a sense of frugality. one party, however, wants to also understand that we need to be able to have -- meet the
compelling needs that are in the mission of our government, and we have already given it the office. so let's talk about oh, this could be new spending and i don't want this. the fact is that since 2010 -- not 2001. let's get our zeros straight for a change -- 2010, we have already cut domestic spending by $43 billion. so we have already cut $43 billion. that's nearly 10% of domestic spending in just three years. that $43 billion was in nondefense programs. then there is talk oh, why don't we have a budget? mr. president, when august 2, 2011, we passed something called the budget control act. that was deemed to be the budget of the united states of america.
in that budget control act, they instructed we on the appropriations committee to cut discretionary spending $1 trillion over the next ten years. the appropriations committee will honor the instructions of the budget committee as approved by the congress of the united states. we're on the program. we're on the same page. we're on the same glide path. we don't have to have showdowns here. so we have already cut actual dollars, an actual checkbook of $43 billion. that's a lot of money. and also we are in the budget control act to cut a trillion dollars over the next ten years. that would mean what was being discussed in simpson-bowles and so on. so we need to understand that. now, let's go to this
across-the-board cut. i see on the floor the distinguished gentleman from arizona, a well-known advocate for a national security, well versed over the years in the compelling needs that our military needs to have to protect the nation. i'm sure he will speak to those needs, and i, too, will also, but i also want to speak about another dynamic which is the impact of $55 billion across the board in discretionary spending. what i want to say is this -- that if, in fact, we go ahead with this, we're going to cut defense, there's no doubt about it. $55 billion. and it's going to be a meat ax. that's not the way to go. that's not the way to treat our military, and that's not the way to focus on our national security.
secretary panetta, along with general dempsey, the head of the joint chiefs, has gone through his own budget, and he has recommendations where out of the $66 billion of defense how we could begin to have a prudent way where we could begin to have modest reductions in the d.o.d. account without jeopardizing national security. i serve on the intelligence committee. i serve with the gentleman from arizona and other distinguished people. we're going to make sure that we can do this in a way. but sequestering could really affect a variety of things related to operation and maintenance. but let me tell you what else. there are many other people that defend the united states of america and i'm proud of them. they have things like our federal law enforcement. with our federal law enforcement, if, in fact, we go into this meat ax approach, over
7,500 positions -- because it will come out of personnel -- will be affected. this could affect as many as 3,000 federal agents. 3,000 federal agents of the f.b.i., d.e.a. and a.t.f. now, they might not be laid off but they're going to be furloughed. they're going to have short-term furloughs. this is going to have a direct impact on morale, a direct impact on mission and it will have a direct impact on protecting the american people whether it's from cyber threats, border control threats, all the things that they do. the federal bureau of investigations, the department of drug enforcement, these are absolutely important. then the other area is in homeland security.
we could reduce the mission hours at the coast guard by as much as 50%. now, the coast guard is absolutely crucial related to drug addiction -- interdiction dicks, not addiction, drug interdiction, and also protecting our boarders from our waterways. a lot of people love the weather channel. i love the weather channel, too. and if you watch what they do in alaska, down in florida, whatever, they're out there doing search and rescue, they're out there making sure drug dealers aren't using our waterways and byways to come into our country and they're standing sentry and protecting the united states of america. again, we could talk about the border control. then there's this whole issue of the center for health and human services. you know, whatever you feel about obamacare, that doesn't affect what goes on at the
center for disease control. right now the center for disease control and the f.d.a. are trying to make sure that we have food safety and drug safety, and are watching out to make sure there are no big outbreaks that spread. all of us were horrified at meningitis. i've got a situation about this medical technician that went state to state, was kind of a technician by hire that spread terrible meningitis through injecting dirty needles in people who needed steroid injections because of their back. we need the f.d.a. we need the centers for disease control. they are out there working to protect our american people. remember, they're the ones who discovered legionnaires' disease. how much time have i consumed? the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. ms. mikulski: i have a commitment to the gentleman from arizona and i will honor that commitment both in speaking here
and in dealing with these issues. mr. president, the point i'm making is this across-the-board meat ax approach has very serious consequences. let's use prudence here and delay them, i would hope for at least one year or two years. not a matter of weeks. but we are saying, and i promise, we do have methods for beginning our spending under serious discipline. i yield the floor and look forward to working with my colleagues. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: may i thank the senator from maryland, as always, for her usual courtesy and i think she had a very important message and i appreciate not only the words themselves but her eloquence and passion. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senator from south carolina be included in a colloquy during my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president,
i, like i believe all of us just finished watching the president's remarks at -- i guess it was the executive office building. and i'm not sure yet as i sort out my impressions of the president's remarks as to whether to be angry or to be saddened. i've been around this town for a number of years, and as is well known, i had an interest in the presidency more than academic and i've watched a lot of presidents, going back to president reagan from the standpoint of a member of congress. and i've watched these other crises as we go through them, whether it be the potential shutdown of the government when newt gingrich was speaker of the house, we've seen these other crises as the debt limit expired and a number of others.
and it's sometimes unfortunately a way -- the way we do business here. but i must say at a time of crisis, on new year's eve when at midnight at least certain actions take place or have to be planned to take place, we have the president of the united states go over and have a cheerleading, ridiculing of republicans' exercise in speaking to the people of the united states of america. as i watched other presidents address crises, the way that they were able to address them and resolve them with presidential leadership -- and that's why we elect presidents, to lead -- they did it by calling the leaders of both parties to the white house and sit around the table and do the negotiations and the discussions and they are sometimes
concessions have to be made, compromises have to be made. so what did the president of the united states just do? well, he kind of made fun, he made a couple of jokes, laughed about how people are going to be here for new year's, sent a message of confrontation to the republicans, i believe he said if they think they're going to do that, then they've got another thought coming. i guess i have to wonder, and i think the american people have to wonder whether the president really wants this issue resolved or is it to his short-term political benefit for us to go over the cliff? i can assure the president of the united states, i can assure him that historians judge presidents by their achievements. we all read the polls. we all, republicans, know what is in the polls. and that is the majority of the
american people, 50-some percent approve the president of the united states. we also see the approval ratings of congress, 10%, 12%, 15%, and i haven't seen one that high lately but historians judge presidents by what happens on their watch. and for the president to go out and make comments which clearly, which clearly will antagonize members of the house, we are a bicameral government here, and will clearly antagonize them because once we get an agreement, and i appreciate the negotiations that have been going on here in the senate between the majority leader and the republican leader. the fact is that whatever is done and whatever is agreed to has to be ratified by the house of representatives.
men and women who were elected on the premise, promising their constituents that they wouldn't raise taxes. now, whether they should have made that commitment or not, whether that was the right thing to do, the fact is that that's what they said. so the president basically in his talk to whoever it is that group of people he was talking to had who were laughing and cheering and applauding, as we are on the brink of this -- of this collapse of this incredible problem this creates for men and women all over -- all of our citizens, so what he was saying is to the republicans on both sides of the aisle but particularly in the house of representatives, take it or leave it. that's not the way presidents should lead. this -- these are draconian effects. now, whether we should be at this cliff or not is another discussion for the scholars in years to come.
but we are where we are. frantic discussions are going on. went on in the middle of the night last night. so what's the president of the united states doing? in the middle of this, hopefully they're reaching, there was, as i understand it, a very one major issue remaining , he comes out and calls people together and has a group standing behind him, laughs and jokes and ridicules republicans. why? why would the president of the united states want to do that? and i want to say a word about sequestration. sequestration is about to kick in. the pentagon and our defense department is like a giant oil tanker. you got to turn it around in a very difficult and slow manner, because they have to make plans and they have to have contingencies -- procurement of weapons, have to do all the things that are necessary to make sure our men and women who
are serving in the military are the best trained, best equipped and most professional in the world, which they are. but we're looking at sequestration here when the department of defense says it will decimate our adilt -- ability to defend this nation. shouldn't the president of the united states be concerned about that? but what is his own secretary of defense is saying and what his own chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, his selection, is saying. instead, we kind of joke around and tell people they're going to be here fear new year's eve. that's not the way to lead this nation. so i come to the floor and say to my colleagues, we need to get this done. we all know that we need to get this done. we go over the cliff, we're going to disappoint the people that we are elected to represent and we will disappoint them mightily as we already have. but i also say it is the time for presidential leadership.
it's time to stop the cheerleading. it's time to stop the campaigning. the president won. we all know that. he won fair and square. but isn't it now time to govern, and isn't the best way to govern to sit down with people from the other party and from both houses and say this is an issue we must resolve for the good of the american people? so i hope that, again, the president will spend some time with the leaders on borat parties in the oval office and sitting down, and ironing this -- ironing this out before the people of this country pay a very heavy price. my friend from south carolina was around when we almost went over the cliff the last time, as we were about to shut down the government and it was all kinds of consequences but we
pulled back from the brink after going over it, and it was the most serious of all these that i've seen. and i guess i would ask him, isn't it true that in our experience that presidents, whether they be republican or democrat, no matter what party or affiliation, going back to the famous ronald reagan and tip o'neill relationship where they sat down together and they saved social security for about 25 years, and it was tough medicine but they did it together, the president of the united states basically dismissed social security and medicare from his list of priorities, and what, as my friend from tennessee pointed out, we have a $16 trillion debt. and for to us say that we're not going to do anything about spending when we all know that
spending is the biggest problem we have in this agreement, again, that is throwing kerosene on the fire that's on the other side of the capitol and that's my republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have committed and pledged to their constituents that we will end this hemaging that -- hemorrhaging that we call spending which has given us the greatest debt in the history of this country. so i guess i would ask my colleague from south carolina, who is usually very modest and reticent in explaining his views particularly in various media outlets of his view on this situation. mr. graham: thank you, senator. i guess my first view is it's better not to go over the cliff than to go over the cliff, but it's also important, as you just said, to understand what we've accomplished. let's assume for a moment and let's hope that this is a good assumption that we reach an
agreement by the end of the day, that raises taxes -- tax rates on people that make over $400,000. i don't think that's a good idea because i think it hurts job creation. the better way to get revenue is to eliminate deductions and exemptions for businesses and wealthy individuals and take that money back into the treasury, lower tax rates to create jobs and pay down debt. that's what bowles-simpson did. not juan bipartisan group who has tried to solve our debt problem and our spending problem and our revenue problem suggested raising tax rates. bools, a -- bowles-simpson, a bipartisan group, actually lowered tax rates and did it by eliminating deductions and exemptions and they put a lot of money on the debt, they had a 25% corporate rate and the top personal rate was 30%. they took this $1.2 trillion we give out every year in exemptions and deductions to the favored few, they brought it
back into the treasury, they paid down debt and they lowered tax rates to help create jobs. this president's approach is the opposite of simpson-bowles and the gang of six. you had six senators, three democrats and three republicans, how did they try to solve our long-term problems? they reformed the tax code by eliminating virtually all deductions. they took that money back into the treasury. they paid down debt and they lowered tax rates, just like simpson-bowles. now, this president has taken another path. he wants to raise tax rates to generate revenue. my concern is the higher the tax burdens in america, the less likely to create a job in america. there are better ways to generate revenue. but he's gone his way and he's going to win. hats off to the president for having the courage of your convictions. you said during the campaign you're going to raise tax rates on everybody who made above
$250,000, but you're probably not going to get that but it's going to be somewhere around $400,000. the money to be generated, you say you want it to go on the deficit. that's good. yesterday, the proposal by our democratic colleagues was to take that increased revenue from raising tax rates and they spent $600 billion on the government. and that's why we don't have a deal. i am willing to swallow my pride and vote for a tax rate increase even though i don't think it's good policy just to save the country from going into the abyss and destroying the military. i'm willing to do that, and i will take some heat but that's the way democracies are. you win some, you lose some. but what i'm not going to do is raise tax rates on anybody and take that additional money to grow the government when we all know we need to get out of debt. that's what was going to happen yesterday. by 2037, the amount of debt we have in the nation will be twice the size of our economy. every child born in america owes
$51,000 of debt on the day of their birth. and when you look at medicare, social security and medicaid, the three big spending programs called entitlements, in about 25 years, the cost of those programs are going to consume all the revenue coming into the government, and there will be no money for the defense department. so when the president said today that round two will be the debt ceiling, he's right. he won round one, but we have done nothing, as senator mccain indicated, to lower the deficit in any real way. if you took every penny of the money we're generating from raising tax rates for people above $400,000, that's 6% of the national deficit. so that doesn't even begin to solve the problem. so this is a hollow victory, a victory of revenue with no change in the nation's march toward becoming greece, no real
reduction in our deficit or our debt. the good news, senator mccain, is that we're one big deal away from dominating the 21st century because america's problems are really less than most other places. the bad news is that that deal is elusive, it requires presidential leadership, and i haven't seen much of it, and if we say on the course we're on today, we're going to lose the american dream because your grandchildren and your children cannot pay off the debt you're about to pass on to them. so in about two months, round two begins and we will be asked to raise the debt ceiling. trust me, i don't want to default on our obligations, but in august of 2011, we borrowed $2.1 trillion because we ran out of money and 42 cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed money. if you don't keep borrowing, you will have to cut the government by 42%. nobody suggests that that's a
good idea overnight. but here's what i won't do. i won't continue borrowing money unless we address in the process what got us into debt to begin with. so when we have to raise the debt ceiling again, i'm going to make a simple request. let's come up with a plan bipartisan in nature to save social security and medicare from bankruptcy because they are going to run out of money and become insolvent in the next 20 years, and let's also create a spending reduction plan that will allow us not to become greece. if you want to raise more revenue by capping deductions, you can count me in because we'll need some more revenue. but in 17 months, ladies and gentlemen, we spent 2.1 trillion. we're burning through money like crazy. it took us 200 years to borrow the first $2 trillion. we spent $2.1 trillion of borrowed money in 17 months. that's got to stop. so to president obama, congratulations on your tax rate
increase. you fought hard and you won. i hope i have the courage of my convictions not to raise the debt ceiling until you and others will work with me to find a plan to begin to get us out of debt. so you mentioned medicare today in your speech. i'm glad you did. in 2024, it completely becomes insolvent. think of how many people in this country need medicare and will need it 20 years from now. if we don't do something, it's going to run out of money. the age of eligibility for medicare recipients is 65. it hasn't changed one day since 1965 when it was first started. we're all living longer. i propose we adjust the retirement age to 67 over a 10 or 20-year period. that will save the program in many ways. people in my income level, we shouldn't get any money from the government to help buy my prescription drugs. i should pay the full cost because i can afford to. that's called means testing. and this c.p.i. thing you hear a lot about, that's how you evaluate benefits. it needs to be re-evaluated
based on real inflation. we're overestimating the cost and it's adding burdens to these programs. so that's kind of technical stuff, but here's what i'm telling you. i am not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling until we do something to save social security and medicare from bankruptcy, and i'm not going to borrow a bunch more money that your grandkids will have to pay off without a plan to get out of debt. if that's too much to ask, so be it, but it's not too much to ask of you at home, because if you spend a lot more money than you make, you go to jail. we call it good government. that's got to stop. so round two's coming, and we're going to have one hell of a contest about the direction and the vision of this country. the president we need two months from now is going to be the one who will come down here and talk with us and work with us and not have a press conference, because, mr. president, i want to make you an historic president. i want on your four-year watch for us to change the course of the country. i want to save medicare and social security from insolvency,
and i will give you the full credit as a presidential leader if you will help us as a nation to find a way to save these programs from bankruptcy. i want to turn around the spending problem we have that will prevent us from becoming greece, and if you will lead, i will follow, and yes, i will raise more revenue in a responsible way, but without you, it's going to be hard for us to get there. so the next time we meet is going to be around the debt ceiling, and the image i want is not a bunch of people behind the president who are clapping for him, but members of congress, republicans and democrats behind the president clapping for the president because he signed a bill that will save all of us from a certain fate. and our fate is being sealed as i talk unless we make changes. we cannot survive on the course we're taking today. the good news is with some bipartisanship and presidential leadership, we still have time
to turn around this country and actually dominate the 21st century. it's going to take some pain, it's going to take some sacrifice, but one final story. when i was 21, my mom died. when i was 22, my dad died 15 months later. we were in -- my family owned a liquor store, a restaurant and a pool room, and everybody i know about politics i learned in the pool room. my sister was 13. we had my uncle take over the businesses. he left the textile industry to run the businesses. we moved in with my aunt and uncle. they never made over $25,000, $30,000 in their entire life. if it weren't for social security survivor benefits for me and my sister, we would have had a hard time majority it. she went to college on pell grants. i am 57. i'm not married. i don't have any kids. i'm part of the problem. that's what's happening all over
america. when i was 22, we needed every penny we could get in social security benefits. today, i could easily give up $400 or $500 when i retire and not feel it at all. i could pay more for medicare, and i would. and i'm going to ask people in my situation to do that. we just have to have the courage to ask. i think most americans will say yes. so medicare and social security are not programs to me. i know what they do for real people. and if we do nothing, in 2032, which seems forever but it's not, social security becomes insolvent and you have to cut benefits 25% for everybody whether they can afford it or not or raise taxes by 38%, whether the business can afford it or not. and the way you solve that is you reform the programs like ronald reagan and tip o'neill. mr. president, i am willing to play, along with my other
republican colleagues, the role of tip o'neill. you just need to play the role of ronald reagan. so the next time we talk about fiscal problems in america, i want a news conference where the president is center stage, not surrounded by political activists, surrounded by republicans and democrats who can celebrate accomplishing something that we should all be proud of. they tell me this is the least productive congress in the history of the nation. if it's not, i would hate to be in the one that was. we haven't done a whole lot up here. senator mccain, i know urve here a few years now. -- i know you have been here a few years now. what's your opinion of where we're going as a nation and how we get along with each other? mr. mccain: well, i would say to my friend, first of all, we have had some meetings of a bipartisan fashion to try and
improve the process here so that we can move legislation forward. the issue before us i believe right now at nearly 3:00 p.m., nine hours from midnight, and we still have not reached an agreement, and the longer it takes for us to reach agreement, the less time we will have examining it and the less time we will have before voting. as the senator from south carolina said, we can't keep doing business like this, and we can't. but on this particular issue, i want to express as i began my disappointment in the president in having a cheerleading rally when we should be sitting down together and resolving this issue. that's what i have seen other
presidents, republican and democrat, do. i hope now that the president has made his statement with his cheering section that now he would sit down as presidents have and should work to hammer out this agreement and agreements in the future. the presidential campaign is over, he won, congratulations. now let's get down to the serious business of governing this country in a bipartisan fashion. i yield to the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i rise for a moment to associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman from tennessee, the gentleman from arizona and the gentleman from south carolina. and i want to tell a personal story somewhat like the south carolinian told. you know, i made my living my entire life before i got here for 33 years selling houses, causing two people to come together and agree on a price, agree on terms, sign, shake a deal and walk away from a closing table feeling like both of them won. i've also been elected to every
legislative body i could be elected to in my state, and i've served in the legislatures for 34 years. i have negotiated deals, been on conference committees, and i never once found myself making a deal by intimidating or insulting the other side. what the president did this afternoon set us back in civility and in leadership and in deal making. now, i'm a big enough guy to know i'm not going to take it personally. if the desire was to offend me, the speech did, but if the desire was to deter me, it did not. it is time we all found ways to come together as americans and solve our problems, not just in the short run but in the long run, not fill our room through a partisan's borders but instead cause everybody to sit together around the table and find a way to make a deal. this is the greatest country on the face of this earth, and it will continue to be unless we forget what got us here. what got us here are the american people, not the american politicians. the american businessman, the american entrepreneur, the american worker, the american laborer and the american leader,
people who through their sweat, their blood and their toil built businesses, built factories, built companies and made this great enterprise known as the united states of america work. if we want to raise our revenue, sure, you can raise by a percentage looks your revenue by raising your assess many, but if you lower your base, your revenue goes down. what we need to do is empower our base by raising the prosperity of the american businessman, the american employee and the american worker, and as their prosperity rises, taxes will go up not because we're charging them more by ratebaugh because they are making more in the rate and what they pays goes up because they are more prosperous. you will never raise the revenue you need by insulting the american people or taking away the incentives to work, make a living, take a risk and be an entrepreneur. so while we had a speech today whose intention i really don't know what it was, it probably protracted and delayed what we're trying to do here today, and that's find a way to come back and fight another day. i agree with senator graham.